Having a healthy heart is vital for a healthy lifestyle, yet many of us don’t know what exactly cholesterol is and why it’s important. Cholesterol comes in two types: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Knowing the difference between them is key to understanding your own health and any potential health risks you might have.
What Is LDL Cholesterol?
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol, because elevated levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease. It’s a waxy, fat-like substance that is present in all of us, and its job is to deliver cholesterol to the body’s cells. While LDL cholesterol performs an important role in the production of hormones and other vital functions, too much of it can be dangerous.
What Is HDL Cholesterol?
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, on the other hand, is referred to as “good” cholesterol because it helps protect against heart disease by carrying excess LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver for processing. HDL cholesterol is produced primarily in the liver and helps to keep the arterial walls free of the fatty deposits that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Having healthy cholesterol levels is important for overall health. The American Heart Association recommends that adults aged 20 or older have their cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years. LDL cholesterol should be below 100 mg/dL and HDL cholesterol should be more than 60 mg/dL in healthy adults.
What If Your Cholesterol Levels Are High?
If your cholesterol levels are higher than the recommended levels, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about ways to lower them. Methods to lower cholesterol levels include diet and lifestyle changes, such as eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. Eating a healthy diet, limiting salt and alcohol intake, and getting regular exercise are also important for maintaining a healthy heart.
Keywords: LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, heart disease, healthy lifestyle, heart health, diet and lifestyle, exercise, smoking